Category Archives: Big Ideas

New Portland-Based Fund Invests in Women-Led Startups

There was some very cool news out of Portland this week, and I wanted to be sure that all of you StartupBend readers saw it. A group of women entrepreneurs, investors and lenders debuted the XXcelerate Fund on Tuesday. The fund is designed to fill the capital gap that many women entrepreneurs face.

From the XXcelerate news release:

“There is a crisis in access to capital and entrepreneurial support for women in the state of Oregon and nationwide,” said Robin Klemm, PH.D., Board Member and Executive Director, XXcelerate Fund. “And this gap is happening at a time when we see continuing proof points of the effectiveness of women business leaders.”

The fund’s founders surveyed women entrepreneurs in Portland and discovered that they faced distinct challenges in obtaining capital, despite their entrepreneurial chops. The survey revealed that:

Biz and Education Leaders Pursuing Entrepreneurship and Innovation High School for Bend

Sometimes the timing for things seems to be just right. That may be the case for a proposed magnet high school in Bend focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, aiming to open in the Fall 2018.

The concept is being developed jointly by Bend business leaders, local nonprofits Looking Forward and Opportunity Knocks, the High Desert Education Service District and the Bend-La Pine School District.

“What we’re excited about is that this is a partnership with our larger business community, and we’re really engaging with them in the design and concept of the school,” Jay Mathisen, deputy superintendent of Bend-La Pine Schools, said this morning.

Back to that timing. Jay says that the district was already in the process of considering how to accommodate its growing student body at the high school level. At the same time, Preston Callicott, Five Talent CEO (and resident community doer) and the folks at Looking Forward (a whole group of doers) had been discussing the potential for an innovation and entrepreneurship-themed high school.

Bend-based DubsLabs KickStarts On-Ear, Flat Headphones, Which Allow You to Hear Your Surroundings and Music While Skiing, Biking and More

The best thing about working in a co-working space is getting to meet people doing really interesting things. Today, that person was Eric Dubs, creator of Versafit, wireless, on-ear headphones. He launched a Kickstarter for the product a few hours ago, aiming to raise $35,000, to fund the headphone production.

I couldn’t help but walk over to his desk to learn more, after hearing his team’s excitement about their first backers. I’m glad I did, and you will be too. Versafit headphones are flat, bendable headphones that rest on top of your ears.

As Eric explains, this not only makes them more comfortable than traditional ear buds, but it also allows you to still hear noise from the outside. This makes them a great, safe option for people listening to music, who also need to be aware of their surroundings, such as mt. biker, skiers, snowboarders, or people just walking down the street.

#julieselfie: Startup Strategist and Pitch Coach Pam Stevenson Talks Entrepreneurship, Adventure Racing and Designing Sneakers for Michael Johnson

Julie Harrelson, CEO of the Harrelson Group, Fund Manager of Cascade Angels, has a beloved penchant for taking selfies with entrepreneurs, investors and people of Oregon who support building a strong Oregon through entrepreneurialism. This blog continues a series of selfies + blogs about the amazing people she’s met in the last couple of years. #julieselfie

I first met Pam Stevenson, local startup strategist, pitch coach and founder of Awesome Bend, in 2013 during my first Bend Venture Conference. An astute strategist and accomplished athlete, Pam has contributed much to the Central Oregon Community. I caught up with her and her dog Sprocket one recent September morning for a “board” meeting on an SUP on the Deschutes River.

How many years have you been in Bend and what key changes have you seen in the entrepreneurial community?

Does Central Oregon Need More Product Managers? Survey Asks Employers Whether Local PM Program Could Help

How do you become a product manager or product marketer? In many cases, it’s via several years of on-the-job learning to master the skills you need for this key position.

However, some business and education leaders in the community are considering creating a product management certificate or degree program to fast track this process, and possibly fill a local talent gap as well. The group includes Cari Baldwin and Bruce Cleveland, the duo behind BendPoly; Yong Bakos, the new OSU-Cascades CS professor; Matt Abrams, with Seven Peaks; and Libby Unger, founder and CEO of Lumineau, a management consulting firm.

This process is just getting started. First, the group wants to know whether Central Oregon employers are in need of product managers. They’re asking companies to take this 10 question survey regarding the demand for the position, interest in product interns and their willingness to support a certificate or a degree program. Filling out the survey will just take five minutes.

#julieselfie: Why Gary Bracelin Thinks Bend Can Be Outdoor Product Innovation Hub

Julie Harrelson, CEO of the Harrelson Group, Fund Manager of Cascade Angels, has a beloved penchant for taking selfies with entrepreneurs, investors and people of Oregon who support building a strong Oregon through entrepreneurialism. This blog continues a series of selfies + blogs about the amazing people she’s met in the last couple of years. #julieselfie

Gary Bracelin is a creative force behind the outdoor industry in Oregon. He formed one of the first sales rep groups that served the action sports industry, served as the director of global sales for KIALOA Paddles and most recently founded the Bend Outdoor Worx accelerator.

I recently caught up with Gary to celebrate his birthday, check out his 50s cruiser bike and talk about Central Oregon as a hub for outdoor product innovation. Please note: the sign behind us says “Please do not climb on the tree.” I was very surprised we both didn’t immediately try!

Adventure Code School Debuts Bend Bootcamp; Learn More at Events in Seattle, PDX and Eugene

Do you know what’s a good idea? This: Adventure Code School. Bend web developer Chris Tsongas has created a code school that combines learning to code with all sorts of outdoor adventure and exercise, including rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and daily yoga.

The school’s first bootcamp begins in Bend this Sept. and runs 12 weeks. From the school’s website:

Start an awesome new career supported by yoga, meditation and amazing outdoor activities. Adventure Code School’s 12-week Full-Stack JavaScript Bootcamp teaches the most in-demand programming skills, plus Yoga for Coders™, meditation enhanced with binaural beat soundtracks, and expert instruction in mountain biking, slacklining, rock climbing and whitewater kayaking!

Cool Startup Event: Traversing the Traction Gap w/ Bruce Cleveland

As you may know, Bend has a brain trust of experienced entrepreneurs and investors, who are often more than willing to share their knowledge with startup founders. And a cool event slated for next Tuesday (8/16) offers a prime example.

Join Seven Peaks Ventures and Bruce Cleveland, a relatively new Bendite and founding partner of Menlo Park-based Wildcat Ventures, for a discussion on Traversing the Traction Gap — that is the span between a startup’s Initial Product Release (IPR) to Minimum Viable Traction (MVT). There’s only about two dozen spots left, so sign up soon.

For early stage companies, successfully navigating the traction gap can lead to better outcomes for founders and investors. From Wildcat Ventures:

In our decades of venture experience, we have seen thousands of successful startups go from an idea to product (the go-to-product phase), from product to traction (the go-to-market phase), and from traction to scale (the go-to-scale phase).